Edited Pimlico Release – In a late change of plans, the well-named colt Risk Taking will be entered Monday for the May 15 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, trainer Chad Brown said Friday.
Rather than run in the one-turn 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan (G3) Saturday at Belmont Park, Risk Taking will join his Klaravich Stables stablemate, Crowded Trade, in the 1 3/16-mile $1 million Preakness. Baltimore native Seth Klarman is the proprietor of Klaravich Stables, which was the co-owner of Brown’s 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing.
“After a couple of lengthy discussions with Mr. Klarman, we feel that this horse is better around two turns. That, along with the defections, it just seemed like a good opportunity to take a chance with the horse,” Brown said. “I know he is the morning-line favorite for the Peter Pan and we are giving that up, but the reward is: if we are able to get lucky in this race and have him run the race of his life and potentially win or be right there, it’s a huge purse. Along with that, it’s a little better for him around two turns with the extra distance. Of course, it’s a tougher race, but it just came down to a risk-and-reward situation and getting the opportunity to try him around two turns.”
The Preakness will be Risk Taking’s first start since he disappointed as the 2-1 favorite in the Wood Memorial (G2) on April 3 at Aqueduct. He was a well-beaten seventh of nine horses. Prior to the Wood, he broke his maiden on Dec. 13 and won the Withers (G3) on Feb. 6, both at 1 1/8 miles.
“Our optimism is really based on being able to confidently draw a line through the Wood,” Brown said. “If we do that, and if he was to move forward off his previous two races, another step forward, finishing strong at a mile and three-sixteenths, it could potentially put him in the trifecta or maybe better.”
Jose Ortiz will ride the son of Medaglia d’Oro in the Preakness.
Brown plans to work Risk Taking and Crowded Trade on Saturday morning at Belmont Park.
Pletcher Aiming to Add Preakness to Hall of Fame Resume
Todd Pletcher, Thoroughbred racing’s newest Hall of Fame trainer, will take aim at the May 15 Preakness Stakes (G1) – the only Triple Crown race he has yet to win – with Unbridled Honor.
Pletcher’s election to the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. was announced Wednesday. The 53-year-old, who gained entry in his first year of eligibility, holds the record for career-earnings ($405,791,077) and ranks seventh all-time with 5,118 wins, including 708 graded-stakes victories. He has saddled two Kentucky Derby (G1) winners – Super Saver (2010) and Always Dreaming (2017) – and three Belmont Stakes (G1) champions – filly Rags to Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013) and Tapwrit (2017).
Unbridled Honor, a gray Whisper Hill Farm homebred son of Honor Code, will be Pletcher’s 10th Preakness runner and his first since Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming finished eighth in 2017. His best finish was a third with his first starter, Impeachment, in 2000.
The Preakness will be Unbridled Honor’s first start since his runner-up finish in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland on April 10. The late-running colt was a dozen lengths off the early pace in the Lexington and ended up 2 ¾ lengths behind the winner, King Fury. In his previous start, the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), he was forced to try to close into a slow early pace and finished fourth, seven lengths in back of Helium.
“He’s a horse that we’ve always had high hopes for,” Pletcher said Friday. “He’s always trained really well and he’s still sort of putting it all together in race situations. We thought he made a move forward in the Tampa Derby when he ran a sneaky-good fourth and was finishing arguably the best of anyone in the field. He came back and was second-best in the Lexington. That was another improving effort.”
Unbridled Honor will have his final Preakness work Saturday morning and is scheduled to ship from Belmont Park to Pimlico on Tuesday. Pletcher said that the Preakness, led by front-running Derby winner Medina Spirit, could provide an ideal scenario for the colt.
“We like the way he’s training and if he could get a decent pace up front to run at, we feel that if he can take another step forward he’s in the mix,” Pletcher said.
Jockey Luis Saez will replace Julien Leparoux in the saddle for the Preakness, his first mount on the colt.
“We’ve had a lot of luck with Luis,” Pletcher said. “He’s riding great and we’re happy to have him.”
Medina Spirit, Concert Tour ‘Fresh’ for 146th Preakness
Zedan Racing Stables’ Medina Spirit and Gary and Mary West’s Concert Tour both galloped under exercise rider Humberto Gomez at Churchill Downs Friday morning. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is scheduled fly in from Southern California Saturday to be on hand for more serious training moves on Sunday.
Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said current plans are to van the horses to Baltimore Monday evening for a Tuesday morning arrival at Pimlico.
“I was very happy with what we saw out there this morning,” Barnes said. “Both horses are fresh. This cool weather kind of makes them a little happier also. They galloped their regular gallops, a mile and a half. Exact same thing tomorrow and then Bob will take over on Sunday.”
Preakness Notes: Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Midnight Bourbon, sixth in the Kentucky Derby, galloped in pre-dawn Friday at Churchill Downs. He will gallop over the weekend and have an easy workout Monday before shipping Tuesday to Baltimore. Three-time defending Eclipse Award jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has been named to ride Midnight Bourbon, the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby runner-up. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is expected to send 11 horses to Pimlico for Preakness Weekend.
Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Keepmeinmind, seventh in the Kentucky Derby after rallying from last of 19 horses, galloped at Churchill Downs on Friday. Assistant trainer Edgar Cortes said that trainer Robertino Diodoro is expected back in Louisville Saturday.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas told Maryland Jockey Club racing officials Friday that a Preakness run for Christina Baker and William Mack’s Ram has not been ruled out and he expects a decision to be made Saturday.